Cinema review: Trance

By David Keane

MM watched Trance at Manchester’s Cornerhouse – get your tickets here.

2012 was probably Danny Boyle’s biggest year to date – and he didn’t even have a movie out (that’s the Olympic effect for you).

Trance sees the Manchester man’s return to the big screen, and characteristic of the director, he’s chosen yet another different genre: this time a heist movie… with a twist.

It’s hard to describe Trance without giving too much away – a large part of the film’s story rests on a series of twists and turns stemming from the ‘trance’ element of the film: hypnotism.

Trance tells the story of Simon, an auctioneer who oversees the selling of a Goya painting worth £25million, only to have it stolen mid-auction.

It emerges Simon is involved in the theft, however a blow to the head means he can’t remember where he hid the painting. Cue hypnotism sessions with Rosario Dawson to try and help him find the missing masterpiece.

Speaking of which, Boyle must be missing Ewan McGregor as the opening montage for Trancebegins with fellow Scot James McAvoy sounding very Trainspotting-esque in his monologue about art, auctions and attempted robberies.

It’s all very exciting. Unfortunately, things don’t stay that way.

Once the hypnotism scenes start a-proper, the film lives up to its title and takes on a trance-like quality as the team delve into Simon’s mind to discover the painting’s whereabouts and inadvertently run into complications because Simon isn’t as straight-laced as we initially thought.

The audience are left increasingly confused as to what is just hypnotic visions and what isn’t, and the pace of the film slows to a numbing plod as Simon floats through his trance.

Things pick up again by the end, but the action is too little, too late. And don’t even get me started on the ‘this-film-needs-a-twist-to-make-it-clever’ ending.It’s painfully preposterous.

It is hard to take a film seriously when it includes a woman shaving her you-know-what only to have a man then say in awe ‘how did you know that’s what I like?’. Utter madness.

Vincent Cassel is the least captivating we’ve seen him since… well, ever. While still commanding the usual bravado, he demonstrates none of the screen presence he exuded in the likes of Black Swan or Mesrine.  

The sharp dialogue and masterful storytelling that John Hodge graced TrainspottingShallow Grave and the like is nowhere to be seen, and instead the film feels flabby and lifeless.

No doubt there will those who tout this as much a masterpiece as the featured Goya painting and claim anyone who slates it will simply because they ‘don’t get it’.

But Trance is a great example of a movie that’s sole purpose rests on the assumed ingenuity of its twist and when this falls flat on its face, you have to ask, ‘what is this point?’

This isn’t the first blip on Boyle and Hodge’s otherwise inspiring film career – but it is certainly the most disappointing.

You can see Danny Boyle’s Trance at Manchester’s Cornerhouse. Visit here for more information on showtimes. 

Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight pictures via YouTube, with thanks.

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles